So we are in the middle of a genuine, honest-to-goodness, economic crisis.
Last week sometime, the government made what seemed to me to be an obscure, irrelevant announcement about FCAs (whatever they are). Next minute, I woke up and everybody – EVERYBODY – was talking about the crisis. Everybody was panicking, and talking about “2008, this is just like 2008”.
Now, conversation entirely revolves around what is in shortage where. I kid you not, within days medications have run out, most pharmacies have shut down, the hospital is demanding payment for medication in US dollars, fuel stations only have petrol AND diesel about once a week, and there is a bread shortage in Harare. You can’t buy flour either.
Honestly, I will never look at another Western policy debate on economics the same way (because I watch SOOOOO many). In my lifetime, I have never visibly seen this kind of impact from any government announcement – even during the Great Financial Crisis.
In New Zealand, we still had functioning hospitals and pharmacies, as well as food, THE WHOLE TIME the Great Financial Crisis endured. It’s been a week, and Zimbabwe doesn’t.
This is part of a fuel queue near us. You can imagine what fun it is sitting in your car on the side of the road in 34 degree Celsius temperatures. For hours. To get a 20L ration.
Apparently, according to my hubster, we are ok…although we are panic buying just like everyone else. We’re making sure there is plenty of stock in the pantry and I’m rather keen to get some Jerrycans of fuel going on.
I had already ordered a First Aid kit with basic medication up from South Africa when we first got here, and buying from South Africa is still a good option for us, which makes me feel a bit better.
Also, thanks to living close to the border, people here aren’t QUITE as stressed as those around the rest of the country. The saying everybody finishes off conversations with is; “hey, we are Zimbabwean, we’re tough and you know what they say: Just make a plan.”
For now, I’m feeling calm but wary. We have our plan of buying across borders, so we can still survive. If Will (or is it Jamie?) gets stressed, I shall promptly freak out, and tell you all how that goes.
In case you are wondering what, exactly, this economic crisis is, I’ll attempt to explain, using a cartoon made by the awesome team at Zimpreneurs TV over on YouTube.
Basically, the government made an announcement that meant it acknowledged the local currency – bond – was not equal to the US dollar as it had hoped we would all believe (this is where the FCAs came in. Google it if you really want to know).
This loss of confidence by the government in its own currency saw the value of our bond plummet over night.
Suddenly, anyone wanting to import stuff into the country was still earning the same amount (in bond) from their business, but was having to pay three times as much bond to buy the US dollars needed to import.
Quite simply, no one can afford stuff anymore, so there are shortages.
Anyways, onto the cartoon from Zimpreneurs TV: Introducing Bond Note and US Dollar, who are busy having a chat about whether or not they are equal. Poor Bond is quite ill, and every time he sneezes…well, you’ll see. Welcome to Africa, people.